Monday, July 7, 2008

Mixing my two lives...

Hi everyone, its been a while but I am still alive and kickin’…

I have had a busy month, my parents visiting, starting a new project with my women’s group and turning 24, wow! It was wonderful having my parents here! Visitors are amazing because you finally get to connect your old life with your new life (and now my parents understand when I complain about things)! They also help you remember all the things you thought about when you first arrived! I had become conditioned to the beauty that I woke up to everyday (well if it isn’t raining)! My dad especially could not get over that I got to wake up and walk out on my patio and see two volcanoes extending over the horizon. He helped me remember what I had forgotten, that I live in the most beautiful place in the world! Although I live in a place full of beauty I also live as my mom said, “It is (a lot) like camping.” At first I was kind of insulted because I thought I had made my house pretty nice compared to a lot of other volunteers but the more I thought about it the more I realized how accustomed I had become to the way of life down here!

My mom was a trooper for the three weeks she was here! I started her off early on her grand adventure by picking her up at the airport and immediately putting her on a chicken bus! But the chicken bus was the least of her experiences the first day! We arrived at my house and immediately started making dinner when the rain arrived. It was a crazy storm that knocked the power out in my whole entire town, needless to say we had a candle lit dinner and a candle lit unpacking session! We visited the beach, hot springs, had meetings, a lunch with my women’s group, painted two rooms and even had a round of strep throat all in two weeks, not bad!

My dad arrived for the last week of my mom’s trip and I have to admit I was a little nervous about him coming. He had never been out of the country and there was no Mt. Dew here so who knew what kind of affect that might have on him! It actually was a blessing that he came later because by the time he arrived my mom knew the ends and outs of getting around. She knew how to get off the chicken bus quickly so that it wouldn’t leave her and she knew how to function in a world where she couldn’t communicate! That just left me to take care of my dad which honestly he really didn’t need. He assimilated very quickly to my daily routines right down to greeting people on the street with a “buenas días,” who knows maybe he will even greet you with a “buenas días!” (side note: the day after my dad returned home he was at the grocery and almost said “gracias” to the meat counter guy…thought it was funny)

My dad’s visit started off with a trip to the lake. Although it is rainy season we had pretty good days for visiting the lake! It was a great time shopping and explaining the culture to him! It was also nice to get to shop with my mom again. They were mesmerized by all of the vendors selling the same thing…my brother also commented on how they could make any money when they all sell the same thing and the answer is a giant “saber” or who knows! After the lake we headed back to my house where my dad was quickly put to work! He went with my site mates and me to collect a bunch of furniture from another volunteer who is leaving! It ended up being quite a day, a truck ride for an hour, packing the truck as full as possible, squeezing into tiny spaces left between furniture and heading home while admiring some of the most amazing views in San Martin!

The next day we decided to head to Antigua for a day of sightseeing. It turned out to be a bigger adventure than intended! The day before my muni told the chicken bus drivers they needed to pay Q5000 ($700) per bus to run. Well this did not sit well with the drivers so they tried to lynch a man (not sure who or why). Thank goodness this was broken up before anything could happen but the next day, market day, the busses were not running! Needless to say I put my parents in the back of a pick up and headed out of town only to be greeted by a swarm of angry drivers who were regulated who could pass. I was a little nervous about the situation but what was I going to do (insert another “saber”)! This was not the first uneasy experience they had had, our bus the week before broke down on an incline that was well pretty straight up, and so with good reason my parents were becoming leery of the transport situation! But things turned out ok and we had a great day!

My parents got to see me in action too! I had a meeting with the guys I work with so they got to see how inefficient things are! They also had lunch with them and saw how alcohol is involved in everything they do! After the meeting I had a meeting with my women’s group where we were cutting and flipping tires to make gardens! This is actually very hard work but my dad was amazing, working hard to help the women who were having a little trouble but came around and were doing it by themselves by the end! HUGE THANKS to my dad and my who photographed the whole event (amazing pictures I have to say)! This is not the end of the day; we came home to 7 slabs of wood that we needed to turn into a bed! My dad was amazing and got straight to work (side note: while my dad and I were doing this my mom was making GRE flashcards for me because she knows that I wouldn’t)!

Our last few days were spent in Antigua! My dad and I hike Volcano Pacaya, which up until the point of heading home was a pretty fun experience! We hiked up the side of the volcano for about an hour and then the lava appeared! It was still as amazing the second time around! The downhill was interesting because it was pouring rain, dark and my dad glasses were so foggy he couldn’t see anything so I was leading him by the arm down a very rugged path, needless to say we were ready to go home when we got to the bottom but there was a surprise in store for us! Our bus’ clutch went out and so we were stuck for 2 hours in a little town in the middle of nowhere Guatemala! We had no idea what was going on or what was going to happen, while this was all transpiring my mom was anxiously waiting in the hotel room thinking we were dead! Finally they got the bus into first gear and we coasted down the side of a mountain, on a dirt road to the highway where another bus was waiting for us, thank the lord everything turned out ok because it was a terrifying experience! This experience solidified my parent’s thoughts on the transportation situation here!

The next day was my birthday and we spent the day hanging out, shopping, people watching, etc.! That night my parents were gracious enough to take me and some of my friends out to a wonderful restaurant where we got to indulge ourselves in good food and wine! Thanks! Having them here made it an extremely special birthday!

It was hard to say good bye to them the next day but I knew they were ready to head home to “real life,” a hot shower and a good nights sleep, without fireworks, roosters or dogs! Although they are gone and I am sad, I am glad that I had the chance to share with them the place that I call home (for now) and the reasons why I am here! I am happy they got to see my work and where I live because now it is a real experience not only for me but for them too!

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